Wednesday, October 6, 2010
The Green Monkey
I’m just not into brainy art (broken record). Ideas tend to lack vitality and also visual appeal. I prefer to give precedence to the porous connections of the unconscious mind, which is at work doing its thing all the time anyway, whether we like it or not. I’m not in control. And neither are you.
Let me see if I can describe how I can trace the doings of the unconscious mind while I draw. In hindsight, of course. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
A few weeks back I took a picture of a wooden sculpture of a monkey at the Met. Yesterday, I set out to draw a human figure. It was a decision. But, at some point I thought I’d turn it into a monkey, then remembering the piece at the Met. That was semi conscious. Then I began daydreaming about a local (expensive) hangout, called Le Singe Vert (the green monkey), where I hoped to meet a friend. Did I make the monkey association? No.
Then I picked up my orange oil stick. I turned the page upside down, as I often do to continue drawing. Then I started on another piece, while listening to Democracy Now and considering the world’s mess. When I turned back to the monkey, I decided it needed to be green, making no connection to the restaurant. Then I wanted some red in there, and stripes gave the color some air. When I turned the image right side up, I realized, I had made a green monkey with shorts, the kind a street animal might wear as he sits next to an accordion player.
It’s not that I think the unconscious mind makes better art (this drawing, eh). It’s that I know it’s there. And if I give it some room, it makes the work less controlled, lending it a fresh quality that I like. Ideas are just not as interesting.